Lung cancer is caused by abnormal growth of the cells in the lungs. Often if lung cells begin to grow and divide in an uncontrolled division, the proliferation of the cells may eventually form a tumor. Lung tumors generally start in the walls of the bronchi airways. Up to 20 different types of cancerous tumors have been identified that start in the lung itself.
Lung cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the United States, but research indicates that it is one of the most preventable types, often caused by smoking cigarettes.
Diagnosing Lung Cancer
Many lung cancer patients have no idea they have lung cancer and exhibit no signs or symptoms. The lung cancer may only be identified after a chest x-ray. Other lung cancer patients exhibit a wide range of symptoms which can include:
- Unexplained weight loss
- Respiratory infections
- Wheezing and shortness of breath
- Coughing up blood
- Pain in the chest
Unfortunately, lung cancer can spread to other parts of the body, especially the bones, liver and brain. If the lung cancer has spread to the liver the individual may have yellow skin and eyes. Bone cancer can cause pain and brain cancer can cause loss of vision or weakness on one side of the body.
Qualifying for Social Security Disability Benefits for Lung Cancer
If you have been diagnosed with lung cancer there are two ways you can win Social Security Disability Benefits: meeting a listing on the SSA Listing of Impairments (Blue Book) or proving through a medical vocational allowance that you do not have enough residual capacity to work.
To meet a listing for lung cancer you must prove, through valid medical evidence, that your chronic pulmonary insufficiency meets the SSA "listing", which is a list of symptoms for your disease that the SSA assumes are so severe that you cannot perform substantial work.
Lung cancer is evaluated under Section 3.0 Respiratory System, listing 3.02 Chronic Pulmonary Insufficiency and it has three parts:
Part A. Chronic pulmonary disease – the severity is evaluated by spirometric testing
Part B. Chronic restrictive ventilator disease – the severity is evaluated by spirometric testing of restrictive pulmonary disease
Part C. Chronic impairment of gas exchange – the SSA evaluates if you have chronic impairment of gas exchange due to clinically documented pulmonary disease.
The Social Security Administration will first consider whether your condition is so severe that it is expected to last for at least 12 continuous months. SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) and SSI (Supplemental Security Income) are considered permanent disability programs and do not pay benefits for short-term conditions.
Next, the SSA will determine how effectively your lungs can oxygenate blood and remove waste such as carbon dioxide from your body. The SSA acknowledges that if your lungs can not carry out these basic functions then you would not have the capacity to perform even the least rigorous work (sedentary work).
Hiring a Social Security Disability Lawyer
For more information about the specific levels of testing that must be done, you can review the SSA Blue Book under Section 3.0 Respiratory System. If your condition does not meet or exceed a listing this does not mean that you cannot win benefits, but you may need to talk to a disability lawyer about the information you need to prove that you cannot work.
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